The Copa America, the world’s oldest continental championship, starts later today and promises to be as exciting as any other competition we’ve seen in recent years. The 46th edition of the tournament is wide open, with any one of a handful of sides capable of putting together a strong run.
The most successful side in the tournament’s history is Uruguay, who have won it fifteen times in the previous 45 editions, while Argentina have fourteen and Brazil only eight.
Brazil are hosting the tournament for the first time in thirty years and will have the weight of the football-crazy nation on their shoulders, but have lost Neymar for the tournament due to injury.
Perennial favourites Argentina have a relatively green side contending, and will Lionel Messi finally shrug off the label of national team and tournament choker?
Holders Chile are now an older squad from the last tournament, will they have what it takes to get it done again?
Uruguay are third-favourites and have some exciting young midfield talent coming into the team to support a cast of ageing veterans.
The competition features ten CONMEBOL sides, with guests Qatar and Japan making up the numbers and the dozen teams split into three groups. The top two sides in each group along with two best third-placed teams then go to the quarter-finals.
Brazil are hosting the tournament with six stadiums in five cities welcoming the teams. The legendary Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro will host the final and four other matches, and three other stadiums from the 2014 World Cup (the Arena Corinthians in Sao Paolo, the Estádio Mineirão in Belo Horizonte and the Itaipava Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador) will be used, along with two that were not - Estádio do Morumbi in Sao Paolo and Arena Grêmio in Port Alegre.
Group A: Bolivia, Brazil, Peru, Venezuela
Group B: Argentina, Colombia, Paraguay, Qatar
Group C: Chile, Ecuador, Japan, Uruguay
For some more information on why the four-year-tournament is being moved all around, here’s a good explainer.
Everton interest -
The Toffees have two players involved in the tournament, Richarlison with Brazil and Yerry Mina with Colombia.
Richarlison has been in sparkling form for the seleção, scoring five times in his ten appearances for the national side. The absence of Neymar will shine the spotlight more strongly on the Everton forward who has often stated how important this tournament is to him with it being played at home.
Yerry Mina has actually scored more international goals than Richarlison (!), with six in fifteen games, including three in the last World Cup. He will be in the central defensive pairing for the Los Cafeteros and will once again be relied upon to chip in with goals from setpieces.
Matchday 1 of 3
Friday, June 14th: Brazil vs Bolivia (5:30pm PST, 8:30pm EST, 1:30am* BST) [TV Info]
Saturday, June 15th: Argentina vs Colombia (3:00pm PST, 6:00pm EST, 11:00pm BST) [TV Info]